We’ve talked a lot on this blog recently about co-writing, so today we’re going to look at a different kind of collaboration between indie authors, with an interesting case study of ALLi authors expanding their joint reach by appearing as guest authors at Mohana Rajakumar‘s writing classes in Qatar via Skype.
Mohana Rajakumar explains how membership of ALLi helped her recruit appropriate guests, and US fantasy writer Karen Myers gives her perspective on taking part – so this post is, fittingly, also a collaboration!
Mohana Rajakumar writes:
When you teach a workshop for aspiring novelists, one of the core exciting elements is having an established writer come in and share his/her experiences.
I teach my class in the desert emirate of Qatar; a country that’s surrounded on three sides by water and shares a border with Saudi Arabia. While there were several authors living here for many years, they’ve all moved back to their countries of origin. I had exhausted my list of locally based contacts.
Yet I couldn’t get past the idea that my current students deserved the benefit of hearing another perspective, as had participants in past courses.
What was a writer-teacher to do? With no budget for travel, or hosting a guest speaker, I was stuck.
Cue the collaborative potential of a group like the Alliance of Independent Authors! I asked in the Facebook group if anyone was up, literally, for waking up at 6am EST to Skype with my class.
I did so with no expectations anyone would be helpful enough to say yes. Well, thankfully, several people proved me wrong.
Margaret Skea, Jill A Harris, and Karen Myers all joined my class through the technological necessity that has become Skype.
They got up very early, shared an overview of their writing and publishing journeys, and patiently answered questions through the often glitchy medium of video conferencing.
In each instance, my students were able to relish connecting to the wider creative world outside our physical location. And our guests shared their work with a previously untapped audience.
A win-win all around, and before lunchtime at that!
- Join an author group because you will want the network for publishing advice but also as other resources
- Makes sure to give as much as you get. All of the author-visitors had a chance to tell students about their newsletters and free books
- Repeat as often as possible
Karen Myers writes:
I saw Mo’s request for speakers and clicked the button. After I checked the timezone for Qatar and realized exactly what time this meant, I wondered what I had let myself in for.
First I had to dust off my old Skype installation (hadn’t used it for years) and sort out the technology I needed. Then I had to think long and hard about what I could usefully tell to new writers, some of them quite young (from my perspective, anyway).
I decided to treat this as a recurring sort of situation, even if I didn’t get invited back. (So far, I’ve done three sessions for Mo’s classes.)
I created writeups of my presentations ahead of time as articles on my blog for writing colleagues. (You can find them at https://hollowlands.com/category/tips-for-new-writers/ ) Not only would that be a useful prompt for me as I went through the presentation, but it might prove helpful for the students or anyone who stumbled across the articles online.
Each presentation had an introduction and three main topics. My first one was something of a reality check – some topics which were important to me were less valuable to people at a different stage (not everyone is a techie), and I learned how to select better for later lessons.
I tried to balance writing topics with other areas. Though it was different students each time, and I could have used the same presentation over and over, I thought about my potential wider audience for the articles and chose to make each presentation different.
* Writer Psychology
* Meeting Reader Expectations
* Organizing Your Completed Materials
* Stages of a Career
* All Writing is Practice
* Read in Your Genre (and Read the Best)
* Evaluating Advice
* Marathon vs Sprint
I think it’s very useful for a beginner to understand what’s “normal” in the career he’s exploring, even though values of “normal” may vary. It’s helpful to have a general expectation to measure yourself against, and that’s the sort of advice I like to provide.
I’m grateful to Mo for providing me with an opportunity to clarify what I think about some of these topics, and to offer a bit of mentorship to the up-and-coming, wherever they are.
Mohana Rajakumar is a South Asian American who has lived in Qatar since 2005. Her eight e-books include a momoir for first time mothers, Mommy But Still Me; a guide for aspiring writers, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies; a short story collection, Coloured and Other Stories; and a novel about women’s friendships, Saving Peace. Her coming of age novel, An Unlikely Goddess, won the SheWrites New Novelist competition in 2011.
How #Skype helped #writing coach @mohadoha introduce guest authors to her class in #Qatar - with @HollowLands' Karen Myers Click To Tweet
OVER TO YOU We’re always seeking new case studies of authors helping authors, so get in touch if you have an inspiring example of author collaboration to share.
OTHER GREAT POSTS ABOUT INDIE AUTHOR COLLABORATION
From the ALLI Author Advice Center Archive